Despite what vignerons called one of the worst growing seasons they had seen for decades, with April frosts, hailstorms, and one of the wettest summers on record, they are optimistic for 2012 vintage quality.
‘The quality and the intensity are definitely there to make an outstanding vintage,’ Dom Perignon chef de cave Richard Geoffroy told Decanter.
Winegrowers said the warm weather in August was a saving grace. As harvest grew closer it became apparent that the small amounts of grapes on the vines were of excellent quality. In September as grapes were picked and pressed, often at close to 11% alcohol, the growers were amazed at the concentration of flavour, natural sugar and acidity, then a talk of a potential vintage started to spread.
‘The base wines show a lovely richness as well as the acidity needed to make outstanding and long-lived Champagnes,’ Jean-Phillipe Moulin, director of wine making at Champagne Barons de Rothschild and Paul Goerg. ‘We will definitely bottle a vintage for both brands.’
Charles Philipponnat at Champagne Philipponat agreed. ‘2012 is an exceptional vintage and especially promising for Pinot Noir,’ he said, and was echoed by at least three other producers, including Champagne Boizel and Champagne Tarlant.
Benoit Tarlant said the quality of all three grape varieties was ‘excellent – something which is extremely rare’.
He added that he would make less non-vintage this year. ‘It would be a pity not to make a decent amount of vintage wine, even if it means we have a little less of of our non-vintage cuvee.’
The harvest average in 2012 was just under 9,000 kg/hectare – significantly lower than the maximum allowance of 11,000kg/hectare.